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Cinema/TV, Film Notes

Film review – Santo en el Tesoro de Dracula (1969)

My notes on Santo en el Tesoro de Dracula (1969)

This is such an odd item, even by Mexican monster-wrestling standards, that I wouldn’t be surprised to learn it was started as a straight period vampire movie and then reworked in mid-shooting as a Santo picture.  In support of this is the way a cheapo Time Tunnel effect (a bit like The Spy Who Shagged Me) is used to send the heroine (Noelia Noel) back in time so she can be menaced by Dracula (Aldo Monti) while the intrepid ‘Enmascadero de Plata’ stays in the present day.  The scripted justification for this is that time travel is so grueling a process that only women can undergo it, but it might also be that the time machine is just a device to tie the story together rather than an actual plot point.  Back in the laboratory, Santo and his pals (including a nerdy comedy relief character) use a television set to spy on the past as the heroine gets mixed up in a cut-down of the Dracula story that feels like footage from a previous version.  Adding to the bewilderment is the fact that this time out Santo is not only a pro wrestler-cum-superhero but a genius intent on clearing his name after the scientific community has scoffed at his claims to have invented a practical time machine.

In the past, a handsome Dracula has a confrontation with a Van Helsing type, smashes a mirror while reciting Stoker’s line about ‘a foul bauble of man’s vanity’, and introduces himself as Count Alucard (prompting a painful bit of mirror writing).  He is guarding a Transylvanian treasure transported to a Mexican cave and is accompanied by a gang of plump, silent vampire women in see-through shrouds (though not topless in this version, as seen in stills from the alternate release El vampiro y el sexo).  He often turns into a flapping toy bat with plenty of mist effects, and is strangely lit (seemingly from inside his cloak) whenever he looms with fangs.  The mini-story set in the past comes to an end with Dracula staked and the heroine returns to the present, where Santo is battling a black-hooded villain who removes Dracula’s stake to bring him back to life.  This secondary evil mastermind plot is resolved with a sped-up fistfight in a graveyard, a chase in which the film is distorted to make the cars look bigger and an unmasking.  In the actual finish, Santo and his gang are trapped under a net in Dracula’s caves but the cavern roof falls on the Count before we get the scene we have a right to expect in which ‘el enmascadero de plata’ and ‘el rey de los vampiros’ grapple to the finish.

The utter casualness of the time travel angle is bizarre, but there’s a disjunction between the Universal-style pantomime of the vampire stuff and the poverty row serial heroics of the Santo business that makes this an even more disorienting experience than the average Mexican wrestling horror picture.  Monti returned as Dracula in Santo y Blue Demon contra Dracula y el Hombre Lobo (1973).

Discussion

2 thoughts on “Film review – Santo en el Tesoro de Dracula (1969)

  1. Best line of today so far; ‘This is such an odd item, even by Mexican monster-wrestling standards…’ – thanks for reviewing this!

    Posted by tensecondsfromnow | July 10, 2020, 9:38 am
  2. Apparently the color print for this soft version was lost. I still have the movie in VHS as it was released in France, and it was fully in color (just as the “sexy” version that I also have, but on video). Apparently René Cardona directed one or two additional “Santos” in dual versions, I remember one called “Los leprosos y el sexo”… For each of these “dual” versions, two different posters were made in Mexico, even if Mexican audiences of the time never saw (apparently) the “sexy versions !

    Posted by ferocias | July 10, 2020, 2:22 pm

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